Hundreds of nurses and healthcare assistants at a world famous children’s hospital have been told they must each work an extra shift after they were accidentally paid for unworked hours.
Around 800 full-time nursing staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust have been ordered to work an additional six and a half hours between January and March.
“We are not attempting to claim back existing overpayments as we feel this would be unfair to our nurses”
A rostering error, which has only just been discovered after a number of years, means staff have been paid for 30 minutes per month that they have not actually worked. The trust claims it is costing it around £85,000 each year.
Trust chief nurse Liz Morgan wrote to staff last month explaining the discovery of the error and that it must be rectified by staff either working the additional shift at specified times or having the equivalent number of hours deducted from their annual leave allowance.
Nursing staff who work full time at the hospital are rostered for 13 shifts every month that last 11.5 hours each, equating to 149.5 hours worked for every four weeks. However, the trust discovered that it had been paying nurses for 150 hours, as per their contracts. The difference is equivalent to six and a half hours hours of overpayment each year.
Ms Morgan said in her letter that staff would have to work the hours between January and March because this was the period when the trust faced the greatest pressure on beds and a high demand for temporary staff.
The Royal College of Nursing has called on the trust to withdraw what it described as an “unreasonable” proposal, claiming the error is the fault of the trust’s management team and should not be fixed by staff. It said that if the plans were to go ahead, it would cause “significant damage” to morale at the trust, which would have knock on effects for patients.
RCN London operational manager Sue Tarr said: “It should be down to the management to ensure safe staffing levels within budget, as well as having a roster that reflects the hours people actually work.”
“This is a management error and it should not be down to individual staff members to fix it”
“This is a management error and it should not be down to individual staff members to fix it,” she added.
A spokeswoman for the trust told Nursing Times: “Our nurses work extremely hard and we are in no way suggesting they should work for free. We are simply ensuring that nurses are paid for the hours they have agreed to work.”
“We are not attempting to claim back existing overpayments as we feel this would be unfair to our nurses. However, this is about parity and ensuring that all our nursing and clinical staff are clear about the hours they are contracted to work and are paid accordingly,” she added.
The spokeswoman said that the discrepancy had “crept in over a number of years as a consequence of shift changes”. She said that from April rosters would be adjusted so the six and a half hours could be incorporated more evenly across shifts.
The trust spokeswoman also claimed that the majority of affected nurses had been “very understanding” about the need to make up the missing hours.
But Ms Tarr highlighted results from the 2013 NHS Staff Survey, which showed that 66% of Great Ormond Street staff worked unpaid overtime every week.
“All NHS employers rely on the commitment and hard work of their staff to keep the system going and for Great Ormond Street to put that goodwill at risk for the sake of 30 minutes s a month seems misguided at best,” she added.